The Republican party is one of the biggest institutions of American politics, and as of right now, this political party controls the White House, the House, and the Senate. Most people know Republican candidates in their state, or may have even voted Republican in recent years.
But, how well do you know Republicans, really?
Though you may hate 'em or love 'em, you might really not be as schooled on them as you think you are. Here are some things you didn't know about the Republican party as they hit the polls.
Republicans were originally the more liberal group.
It was actually the Democratic party that was known for being conservative and straight laced. Abraham Lincoln, often seen as one of the most liberal presidents of the 19th century, was a Republican party member.
The original Republican party was one which was anti-slavery, and filled with "Conscience" members of the then-defunct Whig party. The anti-slavery platform is what got most of the Northern states to vote them in.
Sometime around the 1960s, Republican ideals shifted to becoming the more conservative, anti-equality party of the two. Nowadays, the once-blue South is now red, and the once-red North is blue.
The Republican Party is actually the younger of the two main parties in the United States.
Believe it or not, the Republican party is about 70 years younger than the Democratic Party. The Republican party was established in 1853. Democrats, however, have been around ever since 1792.
The first Democrat was Thomas Jefferson, who used the term "Jeffersonian Republican" for his platform. Those who followed after him would continue to use that term until the 1820s. Andrew Jackson was the first president to align themselves with the Democratic party using its current namesake.
Meanwhile, on the Republican side of things, it was Abraham Lincoln who was the first Republican to hold the esteemed position of president. The party existed since 1853, with John C. Fremont being the first presidential candidate to run (but not succeed) as a Republican.
The first black senators were all Republicans.
Democrats, back in the day, were far more racist than Republicans were. Republicans were way more likely to vote in former slaves shortly after the Civil War. As a result, any freed slaves who chose to run in politics would choose to do so on the Republican platform.
That being said, many people during the time would differentiate between the races who voted for Republican candidates. This was particularly true in the South.
White communities that voted red were known as "Lily-Whites." Because of the color of their skin, black politicians who ran for office or voted Republican during the 19th century were called "Black and Tan Republicans."
It wasn't really a unified party during that time, either. In many cases, Lily-Whites would actually try to reduce Black and Tan influence so that they could potentially convert more Southerners to the Republican platform.
As the platform shifted, so did the alliances the GOP has held.
The platform switch led to Republicans and Democrats both changing up who they catered to. Nothing quite illustrates this better than the parties's ties to the Ku Klux Klan.
It was actually Republican president Ulysses Grant who signed a law that declared the then-Democrat-led KKK to be a criminal organization. As the political platform began to shift, Republicans began to increasingly align themselves with the KKK. Currently, the KKK backs Republican candidates.
The origin of the Republican elephant had a cartoonish background.
Political cartoonist, Thomas Nast, was very active when it came to exposing corruption. Though he's most famous for exposing the widespread New York City corruption that was led by politician Boss Tweed, Republicans have him to thank for their mascot.
Nast was the first cartoonist to really illustrate the problems of voting politics at the time. In a 1874 cartoon, he drew the Democratic donkey mascot dressed in a lion's skin trying to scare away voters at a zoo. Of the animal voters he drew, Nast chose an elephant to represent Republicans. The rest is history.
GOP didn't originally stand for "Grand Old Party."
Most Republicans will be happy to tell you that the traditional nickname of their party is the "Grand Old Party." As far as most people know, that's what the GOP always stood for. One thing you probably didn't know about the Republican party is that this isn't actually true.
The original nickname was coined in 1877 - roughly 20 years after the GOP was established. It wasn't old back then. In fact, it wasn't even grand, as many states didn't really have much of a Republican backing yet. What it really stood for is the Gallant Old Party.
Over the years, the name actually shifted to Grand Old Party, then to GOP.
Much like with racial equality, Republicans also flip-flopped on women's rights.
Republicans, prior to 1940, were much more likely to support women's rights than Democrats. Shocking, I know, but something many people didn't know about the Republican party. As of right now, the majority of states that voted against women's rights to vote are "strongly Republican" in political leaning.
Moreover, when Congress was working on passing the Violence Against Women Act, every single representative who was against it was a Republican.
With the current scandal of a GOP lawmaker being behind the anti-woman, misogynistic site called TheRedPill, it's kind of shocking to think that, at one point, Republicans used to be the ones who supported equality on all platforms.
Republicans are really not good for the economy.
A study showed that 90% of recessions that have hit the United States since 1953 happened while a Republican was in power. The most recent one, the Great Recession, began when George W. Bush was in power.
Going by this alone, it's safe to assume that trickle-down economics probably doesn't actually work. However, one thing that is safe to say is that Republicans are still very business friendly - if only because they want to keep away from excessive regulations.
Currently, the Republican party is technically the smaller party.
This may be hard to believe considering that we now have a Republican congress and president, but it's true. As of right now, there are only 55 million registered Republican voters in America. The Democrat party, on the other hand, has 77 million people who identify with their party.
Despite this, the Republican party has won more presidencies than the Democratic party. Some of the reasons this happened include independent voters, swing states, the electoral college, gerrymandering, and Democrats voting Republican.
Some of the people who are outspoken Republicans might seriously surprise you.
Most people assume that Republicans are country singers or people who live strictly in rural areas. This just simply isn't true. There are many, many celebrities who vote Republican and are outspoken about their support.
These include Heather Locklear, LL Cool J, 50 Cent, Caitlyn Jenner, and Adam Sandler. Most surprising of all? The Rock is a very staunch Republican as well!